Our fourth installment in our 'Meet' series, in which we interview and showcase some of the incredibly talented blacksmiths, leather smiths, woodworkers, etc., that we have the pleasure of working with.
Meet Miwa & Zen, the makers of our beautiful Zen towels and tenuguis. Miwa, a leather smith by trade, makes amazing shoes and other leather crafts all by hand and with incredible precision. Zen is an especially talented tailor. Aside from hand-sewing all of our towels and tenuguis, he also makes super cool shirts, shorts, bags, and more! We couldn't be happier to represent the work of these two endlessly talented and creative craftspeople.
KNIFE: For most of us who don't know, where do you live?
Miwa: I live in Saitama, Japan. Saitama Prefecture is north of Tokyo.
K: In a short sentence, can you describe what it is you do?
M: I'm a shoemaker. Zen is a tailor.
K: What is your earliest memory that inspired you to work with leather?
M: I have always liked making things, but the first thing I made with leather was shoes, and I carried on from there.
K: How did you and Zen get into your respective professions?
M: I went to shoe making school. After that I learned to make shoes from some of my masters. Zen learned to make clothes at a fashion school.
K: How do you come up with the designs?
M: In the case of shoes, the shape is created from the foot of the customer. For leather products such as bags, I make what I think I would want to use - I thought that the same sense would come together if I did that.
K: What is your inspiration for the different styles and designs?
M: The most important thing is whether it is comfortable to wear. I also want to make something that makes me feel fun with it.
K: What do you think are the three most important traits in an artisan?
M: Enthusiasm, continuation, and optimism.
K: What is your favourite part of what you and Zen do?
M: Zen enjoys making things. I think that is transmitted to the customer, as well.
K: If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would you like to be doing instead?
M: I might like to open a coffee shop.
K: What's your favourite food? Your last meal kind of thing.
M: Pancakes with maple syrup.
K: Do you cook at home and if yes - what do you like to make for yourself?
M: I like chicken and vegetables, baked and seasoned with soy sauce and ginger.
K: Do you have a favourite knife / knife shape that you use?
M: My favourite knife is a Bunka. It is most commonly used in Japanese homes.
K: What type of music do you listen to?
M: I listen to music extensively - UK pop, 80s music, 90s music, and much more.
K: What do you like doing on your days off?
M: I like to relax in a coffee shop.
Miwa & Zen's towels are a bright, colourful, and unique addition to our shop and we can't wait to see what designs they come up with next.
Thanks for reading,